Tag: Environment

Earth to Pruitt: Paris is still on!

EPA chief continues to alienate important allies

This now seems to be a bit of prescient moment during the COP 21 talks in Paris. @bberwyn photo.

By Bob Berwyn

The U.S. government continues to show how out of tune it is with the rest of the world’s leading economic nations with a press release from the EPA claiming that it has “reset” the conversation about climate change to reflect the Trump administration priorities and the “expectation of the American people.”

Apparently, EPA Administrator didn’t get the clear message from scores of American cities and states that responded to Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement by forming a sub-national coalition that is aiming to uphold the goals of that agreement. The We Are Still In Group also includes hundreds of counties, universities and businesses committed to the agreement, so all Pruitt is managing to do is to divide the country. Continue reading “Earth to Pruitt: Paris is still on!”

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Pesticides impair honey bee flying abilities

Nonlethal exposure has significant impacts, new study shows

Exposure to nonlethal levels of neonicotinoid pesticides hampers honey bee flight. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

The evidence keeps mounting that pesticides are the main driver of honey bee declines. In a new study, scientists with the University of California San Diego showed that a commonly used neonicotinoid pesticide (thiamethoxam) can significantly impair the ability of otherwise healthy honey bees to fly, raising concerns about how pesticides affect their capacity to pollinate and the long-term effects on the health of honey bee colonies.

Previous research has shown that foraging honey bees that ingested neonicotinoid pesticides, crop insecticides that are commonly used in agriculture, were less likely to return to their home nest, leading to a decrease in foragers. Continue reading “Pesticides impair honey bee flying abilities”

Seismic blasting once again threatens East Coast environment

Defying local communities, Trump seeks to open area for oil drilling

dolphins Deepwater Horizon spill
Dolphins, whales and other ocean critters along the East Coast may face an onslaught of potentially deadly noise pollution as the Trump administration seeks to open the area for seismic blasting to search for oil. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

In the bizarro alt-reality universe of Trumpistan, there’s nothing like celebrating the world’s oceans by opening them up for oil drilling — and that’s just what the oil-stained kleptocrat wants to do by authorizing five companies to search for oil off the Atlantic Coast — from Florida to Delaware — using loud seismic airgun blasts that hurt whales, dolphins and other animals. The exploration activities are the first step to opening the Atlantic to new oil drilling.

The move comes even as communities up and down the Atlantic Seaboard have said loud and clear they are not interested. Nearly 100 municipalities from New Jersey to Florida have adopted resolutions rejecting seismic blasting off the East Coast. And more than 40,000 local businesses and business associations have publicly opposed it, citing threats to marine life and local economies. Continue reading “Seismic blasting once again threatens East Coast environment”

Sunday set: The Paris climate agreement won’t die

Dont’t despair — act and vote!


The president’s decision to start pulling the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement was bitter disappointment for many, but it’s important to remember that the signing of the accord wasn’t an end. It marked the beginning of a long and difficult path that was sure to be fraught with challenges along the way. It was also designed to withstand major shocks, including the pull-out of a major signatory like the U.S. After all, this isn’t the first time it happened. The U.S. also failed to follow through on the Kyoto climate protocol. Read about how the Paris agreement was designed with this history in mind in one of my recent stories for Pacific Standard.

It’s also worth remembering that it will take several years for the withdrawal. In fact, the process won’t be complete until the day after the next U.S. presidential election, so perhaps his wrong-headed move can galvanize climate activists to focus on what matters — electing a candidate who will not only stay involved in global climate policy, but who will act decisively on the domestic front and fight for the changes needed in energy policy and many other areas so that the U.S. can actually deliver on climate action.

To me, Trump’s Paris speech was dangerous beyond climate policy. The language he used to justify his decision sounded a lot like the language Hitler used in the 1930 to rally support for his nationalist policies, and Trump’s attack on global cooperation could end up going far beyond climate. Read more on this topic here.

There’s a lot at stake, especially for the countries that can least afford to deal with global warming impacts. During the most recent climate talks in Bonn, the group of most vulnerable countries made it clear that it is a matter of survival. I reported on their concerns here.

And yes, there is reason to be hopeful. While Trump pursues unrealistic goals of dialing back U.S. policy to the age of coal, most other countries, especially India and China, are racing ahead. Their investments in renewable energy are very likely to drive the shape of global energy markets in the coming decades. More here.

Bat-killing white-nose syndrome found in Alabama cave

A colony of southeastern bats, or Myotis austroriparius. As of 2017, the species joins eight other hibernating bat species in North America that are afflicted with the deadly bat fungal disease known as white-nose syndrome.(Credit: Pete Pattavina, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Public domain.)

Inexorable spread of deadly disease continues

Staff Report

The deadly fungal white-nose syndrome has been detected in a new species of bat in the southeastern U.S. for the first time.

Following winter surveys, the bat-killing disease was found in the southeastern Myotis. To date, nice species of hibernating bats have been identified as susceptible to the disease.

The diseased bat was found in Shelby County, Alabama, at Lake Purdy Corkscrew Cave, owned by the Birmingham Water Works and managed by the Southeastern Cave Conservancy, Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to cave acquisition, conservation and management. WNS in the southeastern bat was confirmed in the laboratory by the U.S. Geological Survey.

A fungus, Pseudogymnoascus destructans, or Pd, causes WNS, which affects many, but not all bat species that come into contact with it. Of those affected, bat populations have declined by more than 90 percent. Continue reading “Bat-killing white-nose syndrome found in Alabama cave”

U.S. beekeepers lost a third of their colonies last year

Experts say more vigilance is paying off, but loss rate still high

Bee pollinating a native mallow species in Lower Austria
Got pollen? @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

U.S. beekeepers said they lost 33 percent of their honey bee colonies during the year spanning April 2016 to April 2017. Rates of both summer and winter losses declined from previous years, with winter losses at the lowest level since the formal survey started in 2007.

The survey asks both commercial and small-scale beekeepers to track the survival rates of their honey bee colonies, is conducted each year by the nonprofit Bee Informed partnership in collaboration with the Apiary Inspectors of America. Continue reading “U.S. beekeepers lost a third of their colonies last year”

Neonicotinoids impede bumblebee egg production

Another study shows pollinator pesticide impacts

A common bumblebee visits a garden in Vienna, Austria. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

It’s no secret that various pesticides are killing bees in many different ways, despite all the lies from chemical companies trying to make you think otherwise. In that battle for truth, and ultimately justice, more science helps, and researchers from the University of Guelph have show now systemic neonicotinoids reduce egg production in wild queen bumblebees.

“Queen bees will only lay eggs when the eggs are fully developed,” said Prof. Nigel Raine, holder of the Rebanks Family Chair in Pollinator Conservation. If queens need to use energy to clear pesticides from their system instead of investing in eggs, then fewer fully developed eggs will result, he said. “This will likely translate into slower egg-laying rates, which will then impede colony development and growth.” Continue reading “Neonicotinoids impede bumblebee egg production”